When I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, something amazing happened. I applied the principles, I eliminated everything that didn't spark joy, and my life changed miraculously. I rid myself of belongings that were no longer serving me, and I realized how manageable the things in my life were. What had felt too overwhelming to tackle — like my complicated long-term relationship — suddenly seemed so simple. I realized so clearly that my stuff and I did not belong with someone who didn't spark joy, so I left.
I know this sounds crazy, but once I let go of my negative relationship, I felt like my aura changed. For the first time in a long time, I was truly happy, and it opened so many doors for me. And now that the KonMari method is gaining popularity thanks to her hit Netflix show, it got me thinking about what would happen if we applied these principles to our dating lives. I asked a couple of experts to weigh in, and if you're feeling at all stuck with your current situation, you're going to want to read this.
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Marie Kondo begins her book by reminding us all that tidying up isn't something to start, stop, and never pick up again. You need to fully commit to the process, and she doesn't recommend beginning until after reading the entire book. Simple enough, right? Well, when it comes to our dating lives, this commitment takes on a new challenge: being open. It's about making yourself available for someone to come into your life and spark joy, while simultaneously making yourself unavailable for those who don't.
"Whether it's your closet or your love life, examining what you have with intention and making sense of it is a very intense process," Ashley Campana, matchmaker at Lisa Clampitt Matchmaking, told POPSUGAR. "As you attempt to pare down your romantic relationships, think about the value of scarcity. If you have this abundance of potential prospects, there's a tendency to get stuck in the paradox of choice and keep people around who serve one or two of your needs, but aren't necessarily the whole package you're looking for. Instead, when you have a bit of scarcity, you have room to truly look at people for who they are and explore what you could love about them."
When you're tackling your belongings, Kondo recommends doing this in the morning when you have a clear head. This isn't an activity for a Saturday night in your bathrobe with a bottle of wine, but instead with a fresh cup of coffee with your intentions at the forefront.
Lisa Clampitt, president and founder of her matchmaking service, echoes this same idea when it comes to dating, telling POPSUGAR, "Don't drop a guy because he watches football. These arbitrary attributes aren't going to get in the way of you having a great life with someone. They're merely excuses for you to break up with him before he breaks up with you. When we feel fear, we act irrationally, and being afraid of how much you like someone is a common feeling. Breathe, give it a second, and ask yourself not what someone's pros and cons are, but how they make you feel."
In her book, Kondo says, "The fact that you possess a surplus of things that you can't bring yourself to discard doesn't mean you're taking good care of them. In fact, it's quite the opposite." When it comes to dating, this means you should clear the roster of folks you're only keeping around for a rainy day. When you're benching a great catch, you're potentially robbing them (and you) of finding something real. Set them free.
If you're thinking you don't have much of a roster, I challenge you to reconsider. Most of us singles aren't entirely without potentials out there. Write down everyone in your radius, including the person from Bumble, the bartender where nothing happened, and your office crush who clearly likes you back. Put them all in one place (like on individual Post-its), hold them in your hand one by one, and decide how their name and thoughts of them make you feel. And the ones who don't spark joy? Let them go.
Clampitt urges to be aware of the narcissist, saying, "Narcissists are tricky because what they spark at the beginning can feel like joy." They can make you feel incredible — just as long as you're making them feel incredible. But the second they feel at all threatened, things take a drastic turn.
What you need to do is dig deeper and question the feelings, where they come from, and if they're sustainable. If you're with a narcissist, on some level you know; it just might be hard to confront. At the end of the day, Clampitt has a helpful differentiator: "You don't want James Bond, you want the guy who spills his martini because he's so nervous to be talking to you."
"Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them. Let them go with gratitude. Not only you, but your things as well, will feel clear and refreshed when you are done tidying." It's hard to believe Kondo is talking about concert t-shirts and old Tupperware here, but she has a point. When we hang onto something or someone that isn't serving us, we're not just wasting space, we're dragging down their energy, too. Letting someone go is the ultimate act of kindness because it releases them of the burden of ambiguity.
If you're unsure of what to say to not hurt someone's feelings, Clampitt has the following prompt to help: "I think you're an incredible person but I don't feel like we're the right match. If I have someone you might be a fit for, are you open to me introducing you?"
While that might be easier said than done for some of us, it almost doesn't matter if that introduction never comes to fruition. It's an incredibly validating thing to tell someone that you see them as a catch and makes it a lot easier to explain that they're simply not your catch.
Kondo spends a lot of time explaining how much you can treasure and appreciate your belongings by saying things like "thank you for keeping me warm" when you take off your coat. Silly as they may sound, it's lovely to appreciate your possessions in this way, and it works the same way with dates. Everyone loves to feel appreciated, and once you've whittled down the folks you're actually interested in, you'll find yourself noticing your appreciation more.
With less clutter in your dating atmosphere, it's easier to remember that someone recommended a great book to you and send them a friendly text saying how much you enjoyed reading it. Perhaps that relationship fizzled a bit, but your appreciation resparks something that could be really great. Don't be afraid to throw some gratitude out there.